Person of the Week
Don Rocklin Combines Passion for Outdoors and Photography with Photo Contest
Don Rocklin combines his passion for the outdoors and photography by helping with the North Haven Camera Club and North Haven Trail Association’s Marsh Walk Photo Contest. (Photo courtesy of Don Rocklin)
As a member of both the North Haven Trail Association (NHTA) and the North Haven Camera Club (NHCC), Don Rocklin is excited about the groups’ dual efforts in hosting the Marsh Walk Photo Contest, which is open through Thursday, July 1. All images must be taken of or from the Tidal Marsh Trail, which can be accessed behind Target in North Haven.
“Photographers are always interested in nature and beauty and we thought it would be a good way to raise awareness and promote membership for both clubs and bring people to the trails,” says Don. “We’ve already received some submissions and we’re looking forward to getting some really good shots. The NHCC maintains a gorgeous online gallery.”
The contest is open to all ages and to amateurs and professionals alike. Photographers can submit two images to firstname.lastname@example.org. Full submission guidelines are available on the NHCC’s website, www.northhavencameraclub.com.
Winners will be announced on Tuesday, July 20. There will be cash prizes for first prize ($75) and second prize ($50) in the adult group (19 and older) and junior group (18 and younger). The winning images will be shared with local papers and could appear in local photo displays.
Don’s involvement with the organizations began shortly after the NHTA was founded in 2007. First Selectman Mike Freda introduced Don to Ron Penton, who was president of the NHTA. Don has been involved ever since and now serves on the board of directors.
According to www.northhaventrails.org, “Our mission is to create a linear park along the Quinnipiac River that ultimately can link up with Q River trails in Wallingford and Meriden.” The NHTA continues to work to secure right of way in the process of developing the trail.
“We want to have a trail like the Hamden trail with a goal of having it paved and suitable for all activities—right now it’s dirt hiking trails,” says Don. “It’s gorgeous. I was amazed when I discovered it was just 1 ½ miles from where I live. People drive over and around the Quinnipiac River and don’t ever see it.”
As a member of the board of the NHTA, there are monthly board meetings, which are currently hosted via Zoom. The NHTA also hosts a numbers of events, including the recently held Marsh Marigold Walk, which toured a historic area that used to have 40 homes on the lot.
The NHTA participates in various cleanups throughout town. It also hosts a variety of presentations on topics such as the rail yards—North Haven used to be home to the largest rail-switching yard in the country, according to Don—as well as information on the river, nature, and other topics.
“We want to promote education, people seeing the river, and enjoying nature and exercise,” says Don. “The trail association is about everything that’s good for fresh-air breathers, bird watchers, hikers, families, and kids, plus it’s good for local businesses.”
Don has found that his passion for nature and being outdoors as overlapped with another longtime interest: photography. While he has always enjoyed the hobby, it wasn’t until he joined the NHCC in 2012 that he became serious about it. He purchased a new camera and began to learn techniques.
The NHCC meets twice a month with one meeting being an educational meeting with guest speakers. Don notes that there have been even more speakers in the past year with the added benefit of speakers coming from all over thanks to Zoom meetings.
The second meeting of each month is a photo competition. Each month there is a theme and members can submit their work, which is then judged and critiqued. Don has enjoyed his time with the camera club, learning new skills, and meeting new people. The NHCC currently has about 80 members.
“Sometimes we work with other local clubs as well and we’ll have combined activities,” says Don, who enjoys shooting photos of his family, especially his grandchildren, as well as nature, sporting events, and more. “There’s instruction for beginners and the club promotes ongoing education for all photographers.”
Both the NHCC and the NHTA are always open to new members, though Don is currently the only member in both organizations. Both groups have Facebook pages and websites where those interested can find out information about meetings and other community events.
While COVID has changed the way the clubs have run over the past year, Don has actually had more time to enjoy them as he had just retired from his career as a cardiologist before COVID struck. Growing up in Baltimore, Don had always been interested in science and how things worked, which drew him to cardiology.
He studied at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland and recently attended his 50-year med school reunion on Zoom. After med school, Don opted to enlist instead of being drafted and had his cardiology training at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“I’ve always been a very mechanical person and interested in things that beat. I’d fall asleep reading about endocrinology, but loved things that moved,” says Don. “I lived in the golden age of cardiology with the development of heart valves, coronary bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty, stents, pacemakers, and so much more that all that happened during my career—it was fantastic.”
Don came to the New Haven area in 1979. He worked in private practice initially before working for Yale and then St. Raphael’s Hospital, before it became a part of Yale in 2012. Don and his wife Kathy will celebrate their 49th anniversary this year. They have lived in North Haven for 42 years where he and Kathy raised their three sons. They now have three grandkids and are “looking forward to some more.”
In addition to spending time with his family and his involvement with the NHTA and NHCC, Don enjoys sailing and completing projects around his house. He is on the board of directors for Vantage Group, which helps the disadvantaged by running group homes and outpatients sessions for those with disabilities.
In the past, Don has been involved in the Community Garden. He also supports his wife in her endeavors, such as her time with the Board of Education, the North Haven Education Foundation, and different singing groups.
“As you look toward retirement, you wonder what you are going to do and I wanted to join clubs and get involved in charitable organizations,” says Ron. “It’s been wonderful. Everybody needs a purpose in life. When you’re a doctor, you go to work, rush all day, have tremendous social contact, and a sense of contribution. When you retire, need something to do. Doing charitable things and giving back to people has become much more important to me.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .